It was recently my birthday and usually for the annual occasion, I’ll take a nice vacation. Being a winter baby it’s a lot easier for me to justify taking a break from the Canadian cold and heading somewhere with sun, blue skies and 30+ celsius weather. For 2020 I had decided on Thailand, but now being a little older, wanting to enjoy some of the luxuries in life and having accumulated quite a lot of Aeroplan miles through some of the best travel credit cards in Canada, I decided to treat myself to flying business class for the first time.
EVA (pronounced “E-V-A”) Air is my favourite airline and my go-to whenever I fly to destinations in Southeast Asia like Hong Kong, Taipei or Bangkok. In economy class, they have small touches here and there which makes the experience a little better than economy with some other airlines. But this time, I’d be flying EVA Air Royal Laurel Class (their branded business class cabin) from Toronto to Taipei, which is a product I was very excited to try. For reference, the flight number is BR35 and takes 15 hours and 30 mins to fly from Toronto to Taipei. Check-in is quick in Toronto since EVA only operates the one flight
Since I’m an American Express Platinum cardholder, I usually head to the Plaza Premium Lounge before my flight. However, since I was flying business class with a Star Alliance member, I was able to get access to the Maple Leaf Lounge, which is where my EVA Air business class Toronto to Taipei review begins.
First off, the Maple Leaf Lounge in Terminal 1 is located on the upper floor before you head down to the gates. It’s very easy to spot as it’s right in front of you after you get off the people movers along that very long corridor towards the international departures gates. It was just past 10 pm at this time and the Maple Leaf Lounge wasn’t too busy even with all the overnight departures out of Toronto Pearson International Airport.
As soon as you get into the lounge you can see the food and bar which is all that really matters at a lounge right?
The food selection was pretty good with two stations. The first station had a few salads and soup. The hot bar had a good selection of food including steamed rice, brown and black beans, green beans, maple chicken, pasta and creamy dill salmon. There were also a few basic desserts. Even though it was late in the night, I couldn’t help but get a plate for some sampling. The maple chicken and pasta were delicious and I would absolutely order them if this were a restaurant.
There was a good selection of liquor and a few beers in a fridge below. An espresso machine, juices and filtered water was also available to the right of the bar.
The seating was crazy. This room alone was about double the size of the Plaza Premium Lounge. Although there was a decent amount of people, it never felt busy.
Here’s another seating section. If you look at the distance on the right, you can see some internet connected computers which you can use for free. The guy standing on the right was getting a drink from an espresso machine as there’s a second bar and espresso station there.
There’s also a business area with a printer if you want to get some work done. There was no one here, so if you want to relax on your own, this is the place to go. There are also showers available at the Maple Leaf Lounge, but I forgot to get a picture.
Departure was at 12:45 am, and EVA Air uses a similar zone boarding system as Air Canada. Another benefit of flying business class is that I got zone 1 boarding. Zone 1 gets priority boarding after the elderly, disabled and children. I was one of the first people to walk onto the bridge, and here was my first look at the plane – a Boeing 777-300ER, which is the workhorse for long-haul routes. EVA Air Business Class Toronto to Taipei takes 15.5 hours, so I would have a lot of time to enjoy the service.
Business-class seats on this route use a reverse herringbone seat layout and fully reclining chairs. These are also known as pods thanks to the enclosed privacy they offer passengers. All seats have direct aisle access. The middle seats allow you to talk to your companion beside you, or you can pull up the barrier in-between for privacy. Champagne was served almost immediately.
And here’s my pod again. As you can see, it’s a window seat. The dark green colour accents remind me of being in a peaceful forest. As this was my first business class flight, the excitement now really began to kick in. I put my bag down and immediately started taking pictures of everything.
Before I even got settled, already at my seat were a pillow, blanket, slippers, noise cancelling headphones and bottle of Fuji branded water. A flight attendant came by shortly after with the food and drinks menu, confirmed my meal selections and offered a welcome drink which I declined. I did accept the chocolate, though, as I can never pass up chocolate. There was storage space available in all sorts of places. The seat is wide enough that I could comfortably sit cross-legged. There are three pre-programmed modes available: upright for takeoff and landing, reclined for lounging and lie flat as a bed. You can also adjust the seat angle to your liking. I spent most of the flight relaxed with my seat somewhere between the recliner and lie flat angles. An armrest can be raised, which was how I kept it for a little bit more privacy.
The amenity kit was Salvatore Ferragamo branded, and here’s what was inside: Sleeping mask, toothbrush and toothpaste, earplugs, brush, cleaning cloth, hand cream, body lotion and lip balm. The soft kit bag itself was like a clutch handbag and really quite nice. It would become a gift for my mother later. Salvatore Ferragamo is EVA Air’s amenity kit supplier for 2020, and when flying into Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, business class passengers receive the soft kit. When departing from TPE, business class passengers receive the amenity hard kit, which I’ll review in a later post of this trip miniseries. Note that EVA now provides a Rimowa amenity kit soft product in business-class cabins.
About an hour after take-off, the cabin crew began meal service. This was around 1:30 am, so if you prefer to sleep first, then just let the flight attendants know when they come around after boarding to confirm your meal selection. I had already pre-selected my meals online, which are available 21 days before departure with EVA Air, but I still took another look. Since EVA Air is a Taiwan-based airline, there were many Asian dishes and drinks available.
After setting up my tray table, my starter arrived. Goose liver (foie gras) on pumpernickel bread and cheddar cheese with quince paste on whole wheat toast.
Here are pan seared tuna and herb marinated shrimp with cranberry confit. Notice that the meal tray is huge. Also in EVA Air business class, you get the tablecloth, cloth napkin and metal cutlery. Before and after each meal is also a hot towel which was one of my favourite services on the flight.
Here’s stir fried prawn and scallops with XO sauce served with seasonal vegetables and steamed rice. The shrimp and scallops really were as large and plump as the photo shows. It’s not just my camera being up close to them.
Here are assorted fruits and chocolate pecan pie. The pie was so delicious. I wish I had more.
Two washrooms are available in the business class section. This one is in the front and the smaller of the two which is the same size as the economy class washrooms. Another special thing about EVA Air is that the washrooms, regardless of the class section, are cleaned quite frequently.
There were some additional amenities in the washroom if you needed more like toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash and earplugs. The soaps and lotions are higher end compared to those in economy class.
The in-flight entertainment screen was huge and responsive to touch controls. There were a lot of Chinese, Korean, Japanese and American/Hollywood movies. I didn’t watch too much as I bring my iPad with me when travelling, and I didn’t try out the noise cancelling headphones either as I have my own Bose QC35 headphones.
Even though each seat has a huge in-flight entertainment screen, you also get a remote which you can use for the same thing. I used it as a second screen where I always had the live map running.
Now I was ready to sleep, so I asked a flight attendant for a mattress and changed the seat into lie-flat mode. It was quite spacious, and I was surprised at how comfortable it was. On long-haul flights, EVA Air also provides business class passengers with pajamas which I changed into in the larger washroom.
After about five hours of sleep, I awoke feeling a little peckish. Looking over the menu, I asked for the dim sum and jasmine oolong tea. The oolong tea turned out to be a major highlight as it was so incredibly fragrant and soothing that I later had two more cups of it.
Just watching shows on my iPad while sipping some tea.
Here’s the assorted dim sum: Barbecue pork bun, shrimp siu mai (pork dumpling) and spinach har gow (shrimp dumpling).
For the pre-landing breakfast, there was the option of either Chinese or Western and I went with the latter. This started with assorted fruit, yogurt and I chose a warm croissant on the side. The main course was a spinach and bacon mozzarella frittata, turkey sausage and roasted potatoes.
Here’s the spinach and bacon mozzarella frittata, turkey sausage and roasted potatoes.
This brings us to the end of my first ever business class flight. My favourite thing of EVA Air’s business class product was easily the lie flat bed and being able to get a comfortable night’s sleep. There were so many things here and there combined that continue to make EVA Air my favourite airline. The hot towels before and after meals were always such a good refresher to have. Airline meals which actually taste good! The huge in flight entertainment screen and noise cancelling headphones. The slippers and soft pajamas to make the almost 16-hour flight comfortable. The amenity kit as a souvenir of the experience. This was just the beginning as my trip had a few more business class flights and those reviews are coming soon.
In case you’re curious, here’s the final flight path. Now check out the Emirates A380 First Class Dubai to Toronto review to see how it compares.